THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – A trip to Augusta National is possible for Tiger Woods this week, and perhaps this memorable trip down Magnolia Lane and the good vibes that reign on the property will spark something we haven't seen in 2020 to have .
Whenever Woods travels to Augusta to prepare for the Masters, it will be his first since his moving win in 2019, which now looks like a long, long time ago.
The tournament was postponed in April because of the coronavirus pandemic, which means 19 months have passed since Woods put on the green jacket for the fifth time. He hosted a "quarantine" dinner at his house in April, but his game apparently never showed up.
Since winning his 15th major title, Woods has contested 17 global events, including the Presidents Cup, without much success. Last fall there was the three-tournament run where he won the Zozo Championship for his 82nd PGA Tour victory, finished fourth in the Hero World Challenge, and led the US team to victory as captain of the Presidents Cup where he was 3 -0 at Royal Melbourne.
Outside of those tournaments, Woods had three miscuts and one retreat, and his only two top 10 finishes were ninth at the 2019 Memorial and 2020 Farmers Insurance Open.
Even a return this weekend to Sherwood Country Club, where he won his own World Challenge charity event five times and finished second five more times, couldn't work magic, as Woods played his first nine holes of his title in defense of the rescheduled Zozo Championship 3 over par and was never a factor.
"I played the par 5 terribly," said Woods. "This golf course is one of those golf courses that all require par 5 golf courses." They are all available and I haven't done well this week. I've probably played them for par (actually 3 under), if not over par for the week.
"I didn't drive the ball and hit my irons consistently enough. The only thing I can get out of this week that I've made positive is that I feel like every day and pretty much every hole is me good putt. I feel like I rolled it great. Unfortunately they all were – most were for pars and a few for bogeys here and there, but not enough for birdies. & # 39; & # 39;
Ahead of the Masters in 2019, Woods played five times in the three months leading up to the tournament, with his best result in the WGC Match Play being fifth. He wasn't a back-nine contender at the Farmers Insurance Open (20th), the Genesis Invitational (15th) or the WGC Mexico Championship (10th)
But those results were far better than what we've seen since the post-shutdown events. Wood's best tournament was a tie for 37th place in the PGA Championship. He missed the cut at the US Open. In any of the six tournaments he played, Woods was never closer than 8 strokes through 36 holes.
At least he showed some lightning bolts in the first five events where he was hit on the field as he approached the green. But even that aspect of his game was in Sherwood, where he was at the end of the field.
And otherwise not much was very good. Woods was 70th in the 77-player field in strokes won from the tee; 71st in stroke won tee to green; 55. near the hole; 21. Won in strokes around the green; and 65th in strokes, putting won.
None of this bodes well for a title defense at the Masters, where Woods will undoubtedly get a boost when on such sacred ground, but he won't benefit from the crowd as there won't be any and he is still doing something Must've been unable to work year round resulting in a solid 72 holes.
"Work has to be done," said Joe LaCava, Woods' caddy. "Good news is that he's not afraid of hard work. So he'll come home and relax for a few days and strive for it."
LaCava said Woods hadn't told him about Houston. Woods said he would make a call earlier this week. Either way, Woods promised to go back to training Monday to try to piece the pieces of his game back together.
"I think it all takes work," said LaCava. "And he realizes. Nothing was really bad, but nothing was really spicy. The biggest positive form of the week is that he felt pretty decent every day. And after the rounds he still felt pretty strong. And that was five hour long Laps – hard, soft walks. That's a good sign. & # 39; & # 39;
The hope for Woods is that the switch will flip as soon as he turns off Washington Road into the club lot.
Does it make any difference to re-hitting balls around some of your greatest achievements?
No doubt Woods was moved to victory last year. The circumstances will be very different this time. He knows this and is amazed about it like everyone else.
"Well, I know the golf course," said Woods, who will be playing the tournament for the 23rd time. "So it's not a new golf course and maybe a little longer and a little softer (in November) than." we've probably experienced. But you just never know At this time of year it could be in the 70s. It could be in the 30s. Who knows?"
And who knows what Woods will bring? The expectations are far lower this time than in 2019 – and even then they weren't sky high, just a lot more hopeful.
Perhaps the best Woods can do for him is relative health. After the Masters, there will be no tournament golf for him in 2020. He can try harder, and if it's true that he's feeling really decent, then maybe he can fix the flaws in his game.
"He's definitely feeling better than the last stretch from the PGA Championship to the US Open," said LaCava. "And that in turn will enable him to train." Now he still has to invest time and work on it. What he will. & # 39; & # 39;